Small amounts of rainfall crossed through eastern and south central portions of the state Sept. 12, bringing some relief to these areas, says the Oklahoma Agricultural Statistics Service Sept. 18.

However, much of the remainder of Oklahoma failed to receive any rainfall. The continued dry weather has resulted in a soil moisture level decrease for the seventh straight week.

The average temperature in all districts dropped from a week ago and averaged a maximum temperature of 96 degrees or less, with the eastern districts averaging in the low 90s.

Farmers had 6.6 days suitable for fieldwork during the week.

Hot and dry conditions continued to hamper planting for fall small grains in most areas of the state. Most wheat farmers are waiting for rain, so they can get underway with planting the 2001 crop; however, some farmers have proceeded to dust in the 2001 crop.

Some areas received beneficial rainfall last week, but row crop conditions continued to decline overall. Absence of adequate moisture and hot temperatures continued to deteriorate dryland row crops.

Corn remained in mostly good condition across the state; however, the extreme conditions have rapidly matured the crop to 18% ahead of normal. Growers made good progress last week and harvested an additional 13% of the crop. As of Sept. 17, 87% of the crop had matured and 61% had been harvested, both well ahead of the five-year averages.

Sorghum was in mostly fair condition, while heading of the crop was nearly complete by week's end. Sorghum coloring was at 71% last week, while 52% of the crop was mature and 29% had been harvested.

Soybeans were in mostly fair condition, but proper pod filling remains a concern. Soybean harvest continued where possible and totaled 33%.

Cotton and peanuts were rated in mostly fair condition statewide. Dryland and some irrigated peanuts continued to suffer from the extreme conditions. A few peanut fields in the southwest district have been dug. The heat and dry conditions have led to the advanced maturity of dryland cotton. Some growers applied defoliants to their crop last week, while some began harvesting on a limited basis.

Alfalfa and all other hay were in mostly fair condition. The fourth cutting of alfalfa progressed slowly and totaled 72% complete, but remained ahead of the five-year average of 66%. The fifth cutting of alfalfa was 21% cut by week's end. Hay conditions in the southwest and south central districts have been the most affected by the dry conditions.

Pastures continued to suffer from the dry weather, although those areas that received rain have shown some improvement. Hay and protein feeding continued in areas most hurt from absence of adequate pastures. Pasture conditions were rated in poor to fair condition.

Cattle remained in mostly good to fair condition statewide; however, many cattle herds were showing evidence of stress. Stock water levels continued to decline across the state and hauling water in critical areas was necessary.

Cattle auctions picked up sales after the Labor Day holiday, with feeder steer and heifer prices averaging slightly lower. Plans for herd reduction continued as prospects for improved conditions remained uncertain.

Insect pressures on cattle continued to be moderate to light statewide.

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